Angus townhouse proposal sees fourth public meeting in 5 years

Five years after making their first pitch, the folks behind a development proposal in Angus are still on the mound.

A reliever has been sent in to try and seal the win.

Claudio Brutto, of Brutto Consulting, appeared before Essa Township council during a public meeting on Wednesday and presented a revised version of a proposed development for 68 Gold Park Gate, an irregular shaped parcel of land located in a subdivision immediately west of Line 5 and just south of County Road 90.

It was the fourth public/neighbourhood meeting on the proposal, the previous ones being held on March 4, 2022, Sept. 28, 2020 and Oct. 17. 2019. The first three meetings were moderated by the original consultant, EMC Group Ltd.

The initial proposal in 2019 was for five blocks of 31 mixed-use commercial/residential units inclusive of 17 townhomes and 14 commercial/residential units.

The first revision, presented in 2020, pitched a 21-unit residential development inclusive of nine detached and 12 semi-detached homes.

The second revision, presented in 2022, called for five blocks of 26 medium-density townhomes and four live/work mixed-use dwellings.

Wednesday’s proposal was for five blocks for 27 residential units on a private condo road and an additional parking area.

“We feel that we’ve addressed a lot of the comments and we’ve come up with a plan that we think is suitable for this community,” Brutto said as he started his presentation.

The developer is looking to change the zoning from community commercial (C1) to residential, medium-density townhome (R3-X) with special provisions. The special provisions would be to permit reductions to various setbacks and increase the maximum height from 10.5 metres to 11 .5 metres.

The current zoning, community commercial (C1) is intended to house commercial uses that service the local community.

According to Blutto’s presentation, commercial development is not a viable option.

He said a commercial demand study, performed by UrbanMetrics in 2020, determined the site is very poorly located and not suitable for retail uses, either as a stand-alone local commercial development or as commercial units at the base of a medium-density, mixed-use development.

“The internal site lacks exposure to major roads and suffers from limited access due to its location within a subdivision and near the urban boundary, compounded by disjointed local roadways and low residential densities, making it challenging to attract customers or pedestrian traffic,” the UrbanMetrics study found.

Stephanie Trudeau, who lives at 3 McCann Lane, didn’t agree. She thinks the amenities she needs are already too far away.

“It’s not true,” Trudeau said. “The closest coffee shop, gas station, grocery, everything, is not a walkable distance.

“From the 5th Line area, there’s nothing walkable for a normal person. I walk everywhere and walking to Home Hardware is 30 minutes and I’ve got a pretty good pace,” she added.

Trudeau would like to see a commercial development or nothing at all.

“Anything but more houses,” she said.

Mike Orr lives on Gold Park Gate, just down the street from the proposed development. He said the subdivision was poorly planned and adding more residents may compound the issues he’s already concerned about, which include parking and the township’s ability to enforce its own bylaws.

He said the current situation has led to people parking virtually wherever they want — such as handicapped parking spaces in parking lots and front lawns in the subdivision — and he sees it becoming a bigger challenge if the development proceeds.

“If we put in more townhouses, we’ve got less available parking and then it (illegal parking) becomes more common and more difficult to control,” he said.

Maria Corey, who lives on Greenwood Drive, wants a six-foot privacy fence around the development.

“I’m living in the corner and I don't want to look at anybody’s backyard,” Corey said. “I really feel the developer should consider putting up a privacy fence if this development goes through. That’s my only concern."

Essa Township’s planning department will now prepare a report on the proposal for council’s consideration.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com